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Review: the new Soho Lounge (for BA Gold cardholders) at New York JFK Terminal 8

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This is our review of the brand new Soho Lounge at New York JFK’s Terminal 8, which is now the British Airways terminal.

The Soho Lounge is the mid-tier lounge for British Airways and American Airlines passengers from the airport. As you’ll see it is anything but ‘mid-tier’ and could easily be confused with a ‘real’ First Class lounge.

The Soho Lounge is one of two new lounges at Terminal 8, which have opened in order to accommodate the increase in passengers following the move by British Aiways from T7 to T8. Click here to see my review of the Chelsea Lounge, which is the top-tier lounge facility in the terminal and replaces the British Airways Concorde Room.

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

A third lounge, called the Greenwich Lounge, will cater to business class passengers and British Airways Silver card holders, plus oneworld equivalents. This is not a new lounge but a rebrand of the existing AA Flagship Lounge.

As these lounges are a joint venture between American Airlines and British Airways they have been named – as you may have spotted – after three shared neighbourhoods between New York and London.

I was given a tour of the Soho Lounge on Tuesday, two days before it opened to the public.

How to access the Soho Lounge at New York JFK Terminal 8

Entry requirements for the Soho Lounge are a bit of an odd one, because all ‘real’ British Airways and American Airlines First Class passengers will be using the more exclusive Chelsea Lounge next door.

However, if you are flying First Class on another oneworld airline, such as Japan Airlines, you will end up in the Soho Lounge.

Fundamentally, the Soho Lounge caters for top British Airways and American Airlines status cardholders, regardless of their class of travel. It is effectively a British Airways Gold status lounge.

The following people get access:

  • BA Gold cardholders
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum members, if travelling in Flagship
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro members, if travelling in Flagship
  • oneworld First Class passengers
  • oneworld Emerald members

As you can see, unlike the Chelsea Lounge, the Soho Lounge also caters for oneworld frequent flyers.

The lounge is open all day from 4:30am until 12:30am.

Where is the Soho Lounge at JFK Terminal 8?

The Soho Lounge is in a new extension to the terminal. It is very easy to get to, especially as JFK Terminal 8 is not as big as Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

It is directly opposite Gate 14. Just turn right as you exit security and you’ll see the signage. You need to take the lifts or the stairs up a floor.

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

The Soho Lounge is co-located with the Chelsea Lounge. You’ll see a bank of check-in desks for the Soho Lounge, which is straight ahead of you as you exit the lifts:

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

Inside BA and AA’s new Soho Lounge at Terminal 8

Inside the British Airways and American Airlines Soho Lounge you’ll find a large, light-filled space. This is a mid-size lounge with a capacity of 282 guests across 1,200 square metres.

Whilst the lounge is more or less one open space, it has been separated into individual zones that are functionally and stylistically different.

The first thing you’ll see as you enter is a staffed bar behind a casual dining area with forest green seating:

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

Next to this you’ll find a more formal dining area, around a centrepiece glass chandelier installation:

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

and

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

Straddling an internal wall is a large buffet area where you can help yourself to food and drinks. As I was there for a pre-opening tour this was not yet in use and I couldn’t see what was on offer.

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

On the opposite side, and along the window, you’ll find a raft of armchairs in groups of four overlooking the tarmac. When I was there, a British Airways plane had just landed and parked at Gate 14 downstairs:

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

Beyond this, tucked right into the corner, you’ll also find five individual open booths. These aren’t phone booths (there are a couple of those elsewhere) but they do afford you additional privacy.

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

and

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

After the dining area you’ll find another space with higher bar-stool style seating and a large hot-desking table made from petrified wood:

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

There are also two phone booths here.

As you can see there are plug sockets galore, with multiple options at almost every seat:

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

The final space is the most private of all and screened off from the rest of the lounge as I think it’s meant to be more of a quiet area. This is a cosy ‘library’ area (although there are no books!)

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

and

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

Around the corner are the bathrooms as well as four showers. I was pleased to see these are identical to the showers in the Chelsea Lounge, so you won’t be disappointed:

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

Toiletries are again by DS & DURGA.

Review: Soho Lounge (for British Airways Gold) at New York JFK airport Terminal 8

Food and drink in the Soho Lounge, JFK Airport

Whilst no food was out during my lounge tour, I did manage to take a look at the menus.

As a reminder, there is a self-serve buffet. As far as I know, there is no a la carte menu, unless BA and AA decide to bring QR code ordering as they have at Heathrow.

There is a separate breakfast and ‘all day’ menu. On the ‘all day’ menu you have a choice of:

  • Honey and roasted garlic chicken (hot)
  • Miso pomegranate salmon (hot)
  • Drip pan fingerling potatoes with herbs (hot)
  • Coffee bean roasted heirloom carrots (hot)
  • Runner bean and pesto trofie (hot)
  • BYO salad bar
  • Pre-made salads, including cobb, nicoise, waldorf and superfood salads
  • Roasted tomato soup (hot)
  • Chicken noodle soup (hot)
  • Yoghurt station
  • Charcuterie station
  • Desserts such as cookies, brownies, lemon bars

It’s good to see there are no sad looking pasta dishes with the thinnest coating of sauces. Let’s see what it looks like in practice.

Conclusion

This is an impressive lounge, despite being the mid-tier offering and a notch down from the Chelsea Lounge next door.

In fact, I think you’d be hard pressed, from a design stand point, to tell the difference as both are reminiscent of high-end hotels. You can easily forget you are at an airport.

The Soho Lounge is bigger, of course, and it benefits from floor to ceiling windows along its length. It also features a self-serve buffet versus the Chelsea’s a la carte dining. You don’t have a choice of 17 champagnes either!

It is a night and day difference compared to its equivalent in London, the Heathrow and Gatwick Galleries First lounges. Taken together, the new British Airways and American Airlines lounges at Terminal 8 have got to be with the best, if not the best lounges at New York’s JFK Airport.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (January 2023)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (68)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Mirp says:

    Lounge is a damp squib. . Let’s hope it is teething problems. No self pour wines, champagnes or spirits. When I arrived around 730 pm area around about 3 deep. I waited about 5 minutes for a drink. 1 bartender behind bar when I went for refill at 8pm. Champagne is not a sparkling wine but didn’t catch the name of French producer. Didn’t taste fantastic. QR codes not working. Food is quite basic very over cooked and dry salmon, chicken and pasta. The prepared salads did not exist. Only green leaves for salad was kale. I wanted cobb salad and on it was one of the many empty spaces. Frankly the AA Flagship lounge I visited in Miami in September was better with a person handing out champagne at the door; a live chef preparing food and self pour drinks. FYI the wine taster fridges were empty at JFK today. Things can only get better.

  • Mirp says:

    Checkin was excellent. As BA gold my name was on on list for entry. When I arrived no one else was in checkin area. I was asked if I was flying BA or AA and went to one of 2 people. Sat down for check in which was done in minutes. No luggage belts no weighing of luggage. Fantastic. And straight to TSA pre check. Wonderful. Better than First check in at LHR.

  • Dan C says:

    Does T8 arrivals have the biometric passport readers like they have in T4 (virgin atlantic)?

    • Rhys says:

      I used Global Entry which works with facial recognition

      • Dan C says:

        Ah, but a lot of us dont have GE. so I wonder if the US were going to drag themselves into the 21st century and use Facial recognition for non GE channels as opposed to the human snake queue

  • Brian Paddick says:

    Sorry I meant Chelsea lounge!

  • Matt Jones says:

    Hi Rhys – in case you’re still monitoring this… I’ve seen one statement that access is available to Emeralds with any same day BP, another statement that its Emeralds with a same day international BP… I’m flying in from MIA then out to LHR the next morning and it would be really handy to be able to access the lounge for a few hours on the afternoon of arrival… Would be good to know definitively what the policy is in advance if you happened to have picked up that detail…

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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